Abstract 10: Strategies to Support Young Stroke Survivors

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Abstract

Background and Purpose: Stroke in young patients is on the rise with an average age of 50.4 years in our hospital. Many of these survivors are active in the work force and have children still in the home, making some of their support needs different than those of the elder population. Although a stroke support group is available, few of our young survivors chose to participate. A survey of this patient population revealed that traditional support groups were not meeting their specific needs. A few specific concerns identified as follows: “I didn’t feel comfortable being the youngest there”; “discussions were not pertinent to my life”; “No place to leave my kids”. Participants indicated they would welcome support but in a less traditional setting.

Methods: Utilizing the information provided by survivors, we sought to provide support in a different environment. Partnering with the local American Stroke Association we hosted a Paint and Sip evening. Invitations were sent to stroke survivors served by our Stroke Center. Stroke center staff members were encouraged to attend. A local artist volunteered to lead the process. Food and beverages were provided and music played to create a “cocktail party” atmosphere. Volunteers were available to assist participants as needed and each participant created a painting that would become part of a larger canvas. Local media provided coverage for the event.

Results: Feedback from participants was excellent and suggested social strategies such as this may be a good alternative to provide support for this population. Additionally, staff members expressed the importance of seeing their patients in post-stroke recovery. Based on these outcomes, plans are being made to create other opportunities for social interaction among this population. The completed canvas, Celebrate; Life is Why, is prominently displayed in our Stroke Center as a message of hope and recovery.

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